Hessman smacks trio of solo shots

Astros farmhand records first three-homer game since 2008

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com | June 3, 2012 8:15 PM ET

When Mike Hessman's first at-bat ended in a bloop single to center field Sunday, it wasn't exactly a sign of things to come.

The veteran slugger drilled solo homers in each of his next three at-bats to power the Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHawks to a 6-5 victory over the visiting Iowa Cubs.

It was the fifth three-homer game in team history and the first since Chad Tracy ripped a pair of two-run blasts and a solo shot against Omaha on June 27, 2010.

"It's one of those things that kind of happens," said Hessman, who had a three-homer game for Toledo of the International League on April 20, 2008. "I didn't feel in a zone quite yet during batting practice, but in my first at-bat there, get that bloop single and sometimes that's all it takes to kind of lock you in and get you ready for the rest of your ABs.

"That was kind of the chase tonight. I got a cheap hit with that first one and then everything took off from there, just one of those little ones that gets your rolling."

Each of Hessman's homers were solo shots and each cleared the left-field wall. Twice, he took I-Cubs starter Brooks Raley deep before connecting off reliever Jeff Beliveau.

For the 34-year-old first baseman, they were his 11th, 12th and 13th shots of the season.

After spending the 2011 campaign in Japan, Hessman batted .182 in 17 games in April. He started heating up last month -- hitting .338 with eight homers and 17 RBIs in 23 games -- and has carried that momentum into June. In two games this month, he's 6-for-9 to get his average up to .296.

Sunday was his third multi-homer game of the season.

"I've been playing for a while, I've had both aspects of it," he said. "There are years I started hot, years I started slow. I think this year it's been one of those years where early on it was slow, and then you just keep working hard and doing the things you need to do to have some success."

Hessman some of the turnaround to his easy relationship with RedHawks hitting coach Leon Roberts, who worked in the Braves system when the 2007 International League MVP was drafted in 1996.

"Leon Roberts is awesome," Hessman said. "We're really comfortable with each other. "He keeps it simple, positive. We've stuck with that, and it's been working."

After starter Dallas Keuchel surrendered five runs -- four earned -- on six hits over 6 2/3 innings, Enerio Del Rosario (1-1) retired all four batters he faced for the win. Jose Valdez pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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